Online Classes – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

I’ve officially finished my first week of online classes! If you can even say that, that is. School was cancelled on Monday and Tuesday due to the online switch, I didn’t have any classes on Wednesday besides pre-recorded lectures, and I don’t have classes on Fridays. So that left today, Thursday, and honestly it was an out-of-body experience.

The Good

Waking up 15 minutes before class, putting on a shirt, and waving a hand over your head to make sure you get rid of that nasty fly-away-just-out-of-bed hairdo – now that’s something I could get used to. No one knows that you haven’t brushed your teeth yet, I promise.

The Bad

There’s something about a Zoom call that makes you more aware of zoning out. I mean, don’t get me wrong, these lectures are brutal. Every distraction in your house is right in your eyesight. But your professor can’t see you watch Netflix on your laptop. Hell, they can’t even hear it since you’re on mute. But trust me, you feel guilty. You’re more self-aware. You can see your posture – woah, how long have you been slouching like that? – and just like that you missed the last 5 minutes of the lecture.

Paying attention is impossible.

The Ugly

Oh boy, there were some technical problems. And here’s the funniest thing: it had nothing to do with the Zoom platform itself. It was the professors not knowing how to work anything, putting slides that were too small on the screen, and the occasional student who didn’t put themselves on mute. It was purely human error.

But perhaps the best representation of this was my Leg Reg class in which the professor didn’t have his computer audio on. He wasn’t able to hear us ask questions and, even with the IT guy right next to him, took 20 minutes to rectify the problem. Since we were all able to hear each other, several students began talking about changes to the grading system and our school’s thoughts on a pass/fail semester. Some other students were swearing at how long it took to fix. There were some trying to tell the professor what was wrong on the chat. He didn’t check it once.

All of that being said, the administration is still thinking about making more changes to our semester (like the pass/fail system). This lack of consistency is beginning to drive me nuts.

A more than healthy dose of sarcasm aside, please stay safe and may your heart be full during these difficult times.

Yours from a distance,

Legal Information, Project 3, School

Music Sampling and Fair Use: When Is It Infringement?

Disclaimer: This is not legal advice and while I may try to generalize areas of the law, I am still a law student and am learning so I may make mistakes. Please do research of your own if you believe you may have a claim for copyright infringement.

Have you ever wondered where the line is drawn for music sampling and copyright infringement in the music industry? Why is Drake sampling Lauryn Hill sampling the Wu Tang Clan sampling Gladys Knight and the Pips not causing an uproar? It can’t just be because Nice for What is a summer hit, can it? How can John Fogerty get sued for copyright infringement of a John Fogerty song?

Of course it’s a little messy, but with my most recent legal writing case being about this very topic, I thought I’d take the opportunity to dive in a little deeper because it’s just genuinely interesting.

It’s pretty easy for someone to claim copyright infringement. It requires a valid copyright and proof that one of your copyright rights were infringed. The purpose of a copyright is to give the creator exclusive rights to the work. That means if someone else wants to use it or reproduce it, etc. they need permission.

So the original creator has brought the case to court, is that it? Do the alleged infringers just lose? Why wouldn’t they get permission?

All hope is not lost for the alleged infringers quite yet. If they can prove that their use was fair use, they’ve asserted an affirmative defense. Think of an affirmative defense as: “Yes, I infringed on your copyright, but I had permission to under fair use.” You’re affirming that you’ve done the thing, but you’re making it a defense, hence affirmative defense.

Fair Use is codified under 17 U.S. Code ยง107. Courts use four factors to determine whether a work infringed:

  • Purpose and Character of the Work: Is your use of the sample transformative? If you can prove transformation, courts look favorably upon a sample being used for fair use. A mere reproduction of a sample may be viewed as the same character of the original song.
  • Nature of the Work: Does your new song evoke the same essence as the original? In 2018, the Ninth District Court of Appeals ruled on whether Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines infringed on Marvin Gaye’s Got to Give It Up. The moods of the two songs feel remarkably similar, yet how much was actually copied? The court found Pharell and Robin Thicke to be guilty of copyright infringement as they claimed the song as inspiration.
  • Amount and Substantially of the Portion Used: How much of the song are you using to sample? Just one instrument? The entire beat? The more that’s used, the less justifiable. Some courts take a “not more than necessary” approach, where using only what’s needed is preferable.
  • The Market Effect: Does your copyrighted sample harm the market of the original piece? Would your work be a completely separate audience?

Since these are factors, they are all weighed in relation to each other to determine if infringement has occurred. Nothing is cut and dry and everything is done on a case by case basis. That being said, to avoid infringement licensing a sample is always preferable.


806 Days Left – An Update

Happy Leap Day! It’s strange to think that by the next leap day this project will be finished.

Anyway, this week I’ve really been focused on getting little things done. Because of that, no project warrants a full update, but certainly there’s stuff to tell you.

Project 1: CALI a Law Class

As you may be aware, this week I decided to up the ante and work towards a 4.0. While I may not have had Rocky montage-levels of studying, I’ve felt a change. I’m more focused on getting my work done in the present (read also: do my readings before class and prepare the material). It’s been a lot of work during the week, but I do feel everything slowly beginning to come together.

I still have two papers to write for this week, so I expect some late nights. But after is spring break, so I anticipate an opportunity to catch up.

Project 2: Get Organized

This has been my big project. I’m most definitely focusing the most time on it because, well honestly, I want to get it done to work on more exciting things. I’m picking at things bit by bit and my goal is to be done with this project by the end of the month. Ambitious, I know, but that’s what I hoping.

Here’s what I’ve gotten done since my last update:

  • Snapchat Memories: I just finished college, so I have a lot of memories. I’ve been trudging through them and have currently deleted 1,021 photos. This is just on a first pass-through, I’m not even watching any of the videos. Mostly I’m in shock that I have this many photos saved on Snapchat. This is content that I’m not really looking at, but if it were on my computer sorted in files I would be. I’ll export the remaining files. There’s just a lot of moments I didn’t realized were captured. As a very nostalgic person, this is a lot of emotional work.
  • Sorting Through Clothing: I’m like 90% of the way there. I have a few more items to try on and decide about, but I’ve really worked hard on this one. I even had my boyfriend give me some (at times, brutal) advice on outfits – don’t worry, he had whiskey so he was a happy helper. I’ve gotten rid of quite a lot and I’m not sure what to do with it, so I do need to make a decision on that.
  • Computer Bookmarks: It really shouldn’t be surprising that that’s a mess for me, seeing as how my brain is focused on a million things at once. Going through my bookmarks is both fun and a little bit like the Reddit 50/50 page. Last night I was organizing them and ended up on the Wikipedia page for The Turk – which if you don’t know was a chess-playing automaton hoax from the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The “machine” beat both Benjamin Franklin and Napoleon Bonaparte.
Project 3: Make a Cover Album

Learning FL Studio is difficult. Thankfully Alex knows how to use it, so I’ve been using him for help. With a bit of struggling, I’ve managed to make a semi-reasonably cover beat of Mayores by Becky G. I can fine tune it a bit more, but once I get the cover right, I’ll start adding my flare. I think I want to change up the chorus – maybe a fuller sound?

Project 4: Read 100 Classic Books

I’ve been slowly making progress on Atlas Shrugged. It’s pretty dense and I haven’t had much motivation to pick it up. To make matters worse, my boyfriend has continually told me how important this book is to him and how he so badly hopes I enjoy it. It’s a little bit of pressure. Anyway, I’ve been missing writing book reports, so I might pick up some smaller books in the interim. Keep an eye out for that.

Monthly Match-Ups

We all dropped the ball on this one. Alex and I haven’t been doing much studying and I don’t think Abbey’s done with the test. That being said, the show must go on, so we’ll still be taking the test. Maybe music theory will make another appearance in upcoming months so we can do it justice.


The Halfway Point and Other Winter Blues Observations

Project 1: CALI a Law School Class

Happy midterm week! At the midway point of the semester, I am swamped with work. In the next week and a half I have 3 papers due – which seeing as I only have 5 papers due this entire semester is a bit overwhelming.

Nevertheless, I want to take this opportunity to guess which classes I think I can do the best in. I did this on my first day of class and at the very least it’s a good mental exercise. So allow me to rate my classes in order of least likely to be able to CALI in to most likely.

  • International Law: It’s a pass/fail elective that doesn’t affect my GPA. Technically, it doesn’t even count. That being said, my final paper is due next week (it’s a half semester class) so I can’t cross it off my list just yet.

  • Legislation and Regulation: It’s not that I can’t CALI in this class. It’s just that the expectations are very unclear so it’s a guess as to whether or not what I’m doing is right. My professor uses his own methods which means I can’t even google concepts because what he says goes. We had a midterm on Monday and he went over a potential answer yesterday. The entire class was fighting him over his answers and I sat there in silence. I had the same answers as him. I can’t be too cocky just yet though. I haven’t gotten the midterm back yet.

  • Civil Procedure: Civil procedure is tough, but it’s worth it. Of all my classes, I put the most effort into this one. While I know I can learn all of this material I currently don’t have an outline of everything we’ve learned. I go day-by-day instead of pulling all the concepts together into one big outline. Until I do that, I don’t have a chance at anything. Although since it’s a memorization class, I do think there’s still a chance.

    It’s important to note here that we do multiple choice questions on our phone almost every class. These questions count for 20% of our overall grade. I think I’m doing alright, but if everyone around me is doing better than alright I’m not in a great position to CALI.

  • Property: I really love property. My professor is incredibly entertaining – bordering on a complete nihilist as he rambles on about how at the end of the day, no one really owns anything. He simply drops some profound thoughts that can definitely keep you awake at night if you’re not careful. That being said, he’s also very clear on what key points of the law are and I feel pretty confident I can nail this class.

    Also, we have take-home pass/fail midterm this week which is one of my papers. It’s set up exactly like our final – one really long essay question. After I do that, this ranking could change.

  • Legal Writing: I know it wasn’t in my initial guesses on the first day of the semester, but that’s because I didn’t have the class that day. But I have mentioned this class before. Remember my motion to dismiss? Anyway, I’m pretty sure I stand the best chance in this class. I really nailed the last paper and all of my homeworks have had the highest grade. I’m most definitely at the top of the class right now.

    Legal writing is my only class where we turn in assignments throughout the semester, so I need to keep my momentum going. I hope if I do that, other people might slack off a bit and I can sneak ahead. I have a small paper due on Friday, but a massive one due at the end of March, so I’ll probably have good hard push this upcoming month.

Did you notice that I feel comfortable in all of my classes? I’m a little too complacent right now. I want to propose a secondary part to this project: getting a 4.0. Why not reach for the stars?

The reason I also want to work towards this is because, quite frankly, I don’t do a lot of work. I sleep most evenings and skim my readings. I know if I spent the time living out a Legally Blonde studying montage I can get the 4.0. It might sound arrogant, but I know I can do better.

So with that, let’s raise the stakes: a perfect GPA.


Taking the Red Pill and Entering the Legal Simulation?

The first half of this week has been a bumpy ride. I got pretty sick and stayed home from some classes on Monday and yesterday (Tuesday) I had my first job interview and a legal simulation.

Let me explain.

My first legal interview ever was yesterday. It was with a firm I really liked. Normally, I nail interviews because I can make people laugh. But lawyers are a different breed. I left completely uncertain about whether or not I was what they were looking for.

I talked to a mentor of mine about it and she told me that she had already sent my resume to the firm and spoken to them about me. I’m truly blessed to have someone so strongly in my corner. She has influence in the community and for her to have done that on her own is so sweet and thoughtful.

Regardless of whether I get the job, she connected me with someone who has the exact background as me (school and major). I have a chemical engineering degree and up to this point I’ve never met another ChemE who became a lawyer. On top of that, how lucky am I? I know I’ll be a-okay and find a job no matter what.

So having done the roller coaster that is job interviews, I was mentally exhausted for what came later in the day: a simulation.

For my legal writing class I had to negotiate a settlement with another student. Litigation is something I’m not interested in at all and I really wasn’t looking forward to it – seeing as I’m very pro-conflict avoidance. Since it was a fake case too, I wasn’t exactly attached to my client. Sparing the boring details, I prepared harder than I expected – I think because I was feeling a little Project 1 pressure (as of right now, I feel like I’m most likely to CALI my legal writing class).

But I made a fatal flaw in the negotiation that lost me a LOT of leverage. While I negotiated a good deal for my client, I had a chance at a great deal and I missed it. Luckily, these simulations aren’t really for a grade – but if you do really well, you get extra credit. In the world of law school, every point you miss is another point someone else got.

Speaking of legal writing though, we got our motions back today. I had written about it here earlier, but even a week and some change later I was still feeling okay about it.

I crushed it.

I was well above the average of 66%. My 81% felt good. I’ve also been nailing the homework, so I’m definitely at the top of the class right now. Just like my job search, I’m on a bit of a roller coaster with this class. That’s how life is, right? A continual series of highs and lows.

But how would I know? I took the blue pill.


Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About a 12(b)(6) Motion

Don’t worry I haven’t forgotten about Project 1 yet. This morning I had a paper due, so I’ve spent the past few days locked up working on it.

Not surprisingly, it was for my legal writing class. I wrote a FRCP 12(b)(6) motion, which is a motion to dismiss a case. Basically, it’s a Level 0 tutorial on writing legal documents to give to a judge. If you want to get more technical, it’s when a party fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

So basically if someone sues you for something that’s not a law, your lawyer would write one of these real quick and if it gets granted, there’s no case.

I won’t go much further than that, but I’ve been feeling the pressure on it all week. Last semester, I just barely missed an A because of one single paper. In order to put myself in a good position for Project 1, I knew I had to work harder.

But I found putting more pressure on myself to perform wasn’t the most effective way to write. My perfectionist mind got in my own way and it took forever to get words onto the page.

It got bad enough that this morning I was up at 6 – on a day I had no classes! – to finish my motion before the deadline at noon. I finished just fine, and actually early, but I was still disappointed in myself for leaving it to the eleventh hour (quite literally).

Anyway, I was happy with how the paper turned out and I’m pretty good at determining writing grades by how I feel after I submit. So I’m hopeful I did well. Also, it’s worth a very small percent of my grade so even in a worst case scenario I haven’t blown it.

Following my quasi-success, I tried something new – I bought a textbook supplement for Civil Procedure. I thought it’d be helpful so I’m sparing no expense at completing Project 1. I spent the afternoon catching up with Civ Pro and am feeling optimistic about memorizing my rules.

Anyway, this weekend I’ll be working hard at some projects, so expect some updates. Here’s to a productive project weekend!


The First Day of the Semester

A summary of the day: I walked into a class five minutes early and was the last one to arrive. The professor had already started lecturing.

Could law school be any more intimidating?

All Lizzie McGuire moments aside, with the first day of the semester under my belt, I’m actually pretty hopeful. I think I can do this. For my own entertainment and future embarrassment, I want to place my bets on how I’ll do in each of my classes now – to try and guess the class I’ll try and CALI in.

(If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, click here to see what my current goal is.)

The first class of the day was Property, which initially compelled me because I’m interested in doing intellectual property law (yes, property law and intellectual property law actually do connect!). My professor seemed very engaging and clear with expectations. We had three cases to prep for class and we got through all three. Definitely a class I can see myself sinking my teeth into. 7/10 interested.

Next was Civil Procedure. Now this one might just be the one. Not only was my professor very, very interested in what he was teaching, he dropped a few South Park references along the way. Since Civil Procedure (usually just written as Civ Pro) is the study of the law of laws – how meta! – it seems like it’s going to be heavily reliant on logic. He also compared the class to organic chemistry, since you spend time learning the rules and then learning a million exceptions to it and exceptions to the exceptions… etc. I’m not sure if this is encouraging or disheartening since in OChem I I got a 17% on the final, but in OChem II I got a 97%. Either way, 9/10 interested.

The last class of the day was Legislation and Regulation (see also: Leg Reg). I can’t seem to get a gauge on this one yet. Not only do I have no idea what it’s about, since it’s the only class where we covered 0% of the readings we had done in preparation and instead looked over the syllabus, but I can’t get a read on the professor. He spoke rather quietly and to be honest, I zoned out. Maybe from hunger or boredom or sleep-deprivation. I don’t know. But my boyfriend took a class of his last semester and he seemed to have developed a fondness for the professor, so perhaps I will too. 4/10 interested.

And that concludes my riveting “what did you learn in school today?” answer. If you’ve made it this far, thanks. I know it was a bit of a diary entry, but I hope that it’s interesting for me later in the semester and can be used for self-evaluation throughout the course of this project.



The Prep Work

Project 1 is certainly not off to the most effective start.

Yesterday, my grades were released. My friends and I opened them together (and did a fair amount of drinking). I did decent. Seeing as my previous semester included a lot of personal growth in the form of trying to move, family health problems, car problems, and starting a new relationship, I’m pretty happy with how I did. I felt like my grades were what I deserved.

It also makes me hopeful that if I could swing pretty good grades without being able to dedicate as much time as I wanted to school, this project is definitely achievable this semester.

Anyway, the week before a new law school semester starts means there’s plenty of work to do. I have readings assigned for all of my classes already as well as writing samples, job applications, and research to get done.

Where am I at on all of this? Not really started. I put in one job application over break and that was it. I’ve been focused on finally relaxing and putting together my house.

As a side note, I’ve been trying to brainstorm my next project – seeing as these first two are more of parts of my life anyway – and I’m a bit stumped because I’m not sure how much free time I’ll actually have. Anyway, stay tuned.


Hello World! – My Very First Project

Project 1: CALI a Law School Class

Alright, before I can explain what exactly it is that I’m doing, you’re going to need a little context.

In law school, you CALI a class when you get the highest grade. Many schools recognize students who CALI and it’s something you toss right on your LinkedIn page to show your classmates you’re definitely better than them – or have more time to spend in your professor’s office.

Okay, reducing it to bragging rights sounds a little sad. But let’s take a moment to review how grading works in law school: it’s comparative. Each school sets a curve which dictates what percent of the class will get each letter grade. I believe at my school the top 30% of students get an A, the next 50% get a B, and the rest get a C. So to CALI a class really means you are the best in the class.

So why exactly do I want to do it?

Well, when I started my undergrad, I decided that I’d be an engineer since I wanted to do patent law and it usually requires a STEM background. While I did it and finished with a chemical engineering degree, I really didn’t ever want to be a chemical engineer. So I won’t say I slacked off, but I was only really trying to keep my GPA up high enough to get into law school. Now that I’m in law school though, some of those bad habits transferred.

I’m certainly not a bad student by any means. But I also don’t know that I’m a good student. Having just completed my first semester of law school, I haven’t gotten any grades yet. I’ll find out in a few weeks. While I think I did pretty well, I don’t want to jinx anything.

I’m taking four classes next semester. I’m not going to pick one to CALI in, I’m just going to work at them all. Just like you wouldn’t call your pocket in a game of eight-ball at the beginning, I’m going to see where the semester takes me and then call it.

I figure this will be a good first project for me since my academics will be a part of me throughout this entire process. Might as well kill two birds with one stone, right?